The eighth month of the year begins with the festival of Lammas (Loaf Mass), celebrating the first loaf made from the first cut of the grain. The days are hot and often humid, the unrestrained vegetation begins to wilt and wither.
August was named after Augustus Caesar, among Roman rulers only Julius and Augustus had months named after them permanently. Originally the month was called ‘Sextilis’, being the sixth month in a ten month calendar. Pompillius added January & February, pushing the sixth month to the eighth.
The Saxons called this month ‘Weod Monath’ or ‘Vetch/Weed Month’ as many plant/herb species are running to seed, which is dispersed at this time.
The Gods associated with August are John Barleycorn (Corn King, Jack in the Grain), Llew/Lugh and Crom Dubh.
Goddesses include Tailtiu, Demeter, Ceres and The Earth Mother; whose role as provider and nourisher is now overshadowed by the role of relinquisher. It is the slaying of her son that provides the means for us to thrive.
August Saints are Clare of Assisi, (founder of the Minoresses, known as the ‘Poor Clares’), Monica of Hippo, Augustine (Bishop of Hippo), Dominic (the first inquisitor), Bartholomew, Aiden (Bishop of Lindisfarne) and Oswald, the first christian king of Northumbria.
On the land, celebrations and the work of the Grain Harvest are underway with the workers toiling in the field, often under a blazing sun. Traditions associated with the first cut differed depending upon geographical location. In Scotland the first cut was an important ritual, the ‘Iolach Buana’.
The first loaf made from the grain would be shared and offered in gratitude for the harvest. A corn dolly would be woven from the first or last sheaf, hung from the rafters of the house and then ploughed back into the earth the following spring. On the Wheel of the Year, this is the first of the ‘Three Harvests’.
August festivals include, Lammas, Lughnasadh, the Transfiguration of Christ (6th), the Assumption of Mary (Marymass, 15th) and the Decollation (beheading) of John the Baptist (29th). The Burry Man makes his appearance at the Queensferry ‘Ferry Fair’, second Friday in the month. http://calendarcustoms.com/articles/queensferry-burry-man/
This month we contemplate ‘First Harvest’. Is our Harvest ready to be reaped? What tools or sacrifices do we need to make, to carry out the first cut?
Our meditation subjects are, ‘The land before the first cut’, and ‘As I sowed, so shall I reap’.